I have come to a frightening conclusion.
I am the decisive element in the classroom.
It is my personal approach that creates the climate.
It is my daily mood that makes the weather.
As a teacher I possess tremendous power to make a child’s life miserable or joyous.
I can be a tool of torture or an instrument of inspiration.
I can humiliate or humor, hurt or heal.
In all situations, it is my response that decides whether a crisis
will be escalated or de-escalated, and a child humanized or dehumanised.
Dr. Haim G. Ginott (1975), Teacher and child: A book for parents and teachers, New York, NY: Macmillan.
I like this quote from Ginnott, it has been widely used in recent blogs and CPD events. I guess it’s appeal is to remind us of our power and moral purpose. It warms ones heart to consider that millions of teacher interactions take place with this view in mind.
However, teachers do not exist in a vacuum. There are many situational and unconscious factors that influence our responses. The basic tenents of social psychology suggest that we are all subject to wider social forces and the influence of others, often in ways unknown to ourselves. It is the exploration of the context that helps us understand why and how either situational or dispositional factors rule the day. Teachers exist in a climate, both the micro-climate of the department and school but also the macro-climate of the education system. They are at their most able to contain, teach, inspire, understand when they feel these things are happening to them too.